PRAISE has been piled on the Lake District after it became the first national park to hold a cycling initiative.

British Cycling has thanked GoLakes Travel for bringing 33 rides and 364 participants to the south and central Lakes since May 2013.

Sky Ride Local, a series of free guided bike rides, kicked off with a special ride featuring Cumbrian-born TV star Helen Skelton in Cartmel - and has gone from strength to strength since.

Previously Sky Ride had focused on large towns and cities like Manchester and Newcastle.

Stewart Kellett, Director of Recreation and Partnerships at British Cycling, said: "The partnership we’ve formed with Go Lakes Travel has already proved to be a special one.

"Together we’ve created a fantastic opportunity for local residents and visitors to enjoy a guided bike ride in the stunning surroundings of the Lake District National Park.

"We look forward to another great year partnering with Go Lakes Travel, encouraging more people to dust off their bikes and get cycling."

Building on the success of last year’s programme, British Cycling will bring a new series of free guided rides to the Lake District this Spring in partnership with the GoLakes Travel Programme and the National Trust.

The full schedule of 2014 guided rides will be confirmed in the next few weeks.

Claire Maclaine, GoLakes Travel Programme Manager, said: "There’s a real enthusiasm for cycling and these fun, free bike rides are a great way for families and friends to discover quiet and traffic-free routes, along with enthusiastic guides who can help inspire them and build their confidence.

"We’re looking forward to working with British Cycling again this year and encouraging people to get out of their cars and try out new ways to explore."